Everything I Do Gonh Be Chunky (From Now On)

Casting an eye over the Telegraph home page a moment ago I spotted a typo which encapsulates the importance of chunking as an intellectual (i.e. human) process in the rendering of news online. 

Telegraph_traders_threatened_by_tax_chunk

The above chunk on the homepage points to the following story within the site. 

Telegraph_Banks-and-traders-threatened-by-new-international-tax_story

There’s nothing wrong with the original title or sub-header. There is plenty of space on this page to provide a lengthy, indicative title, and a thorough description of the story in the sub-header underneath.

But the homepage can’t offer this story so much space, or certainly not if the font is to be of a legible size.

So it’s left to the copy editor to adequately summarise this information in such a way that the essence of the story is conveyed. Not always an easy job.

Though there is clearly a mistake here (we’re all human, after all), what this process nonetheless demonstrates is that this sort of job cannot be automated – it has to involve human input, as no algorithm no matter how sophisticated, is yet capable of dealing with formal grammar. And even if we do get to a stage where programmes can interpret language in a meaningful and consistent way, they will still lack the ability to connect with the reader in an intuitive way. Which may be the only way to express a complex story in the small amount of space many stories can claim on a home page.

While it’s not necessarily the journalist who undertakes chunking like this when they file a story, it is certainly an important consideration when it comes to putting together amateur news sites, blogs, or microblog teasers.

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